Michael's Reviews > July's People

July's People by Nadine Gordimer
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's review
Apr 18, 2012

it was amazing
Read from January 15 to February 13, 2012

An exploration of the power struggles and power shifts between a white family and their black servant in 1980s South Africa, when it seemed that the country was on the brink of civil war (and in the novel, Gordimer writes as if war has already come). The Smales family flees the violence in the cities and hides out with July, their servant, in his village in the bush. Bam and Maureen, the parents, approach their black neighbors with a strange mixture of condescension, self-congratulation at their tolerance, and true willingness to be "at one" with black Africans; however, this willingness is treated as suspicious and irrelevant by the villagers. As critical as Gordimer is of faux-liberalism, the reader never gets the sense that she is taking cheap potshots at her characters. Rather, she's interested in the relationships between these characters: between Bam and Maureen, between Maureen and July, between the white children and the black children; she's interested in how these relationships change irrevocably.
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